County officials push to increase standards for U.S. 501 businesses

County officials push to increase standards for U.S. 501 businesses

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The U.S. 501 overlay is one of nine in the local area and the goal of Horry County officials is to make sure major corridors have a set standard.

However, it could cost some business owners.

"So it's important that we get their feedback, that there is a balance," said Horry County spokesperson Lisa Bourcier. "We don't want to put anybody out of business. We just want to make sure we have some nice standards throughout these corridors."

At the Beach RV has enjoyed its location on U.S. 501 for three years now, but after Hurricane Matthew and the flooding that followed, the business was forced to make some changes and fell subject to the new overlay standards.

"I just think it needs to be reduced, and I think it should be structured throughout the whole county," said owner George Cunningham.

While he agrees with the idea of making the area look nicer, Cunningham said it's not easy to be a small business owner, and some of these newer standards make it hard to make ends meet.

That is why the county is looking at relaxing some of the overlay standards.

"Some of them are the buffers," Bourcier said. "Right now on the frontage of 501, our buffers are 25 feet. They would like to have them reduced to 10 feet."

The county is also considering reducing the landscaping required. That is something Cunningham would be happy to see cut back, as it adds up quickly.

"It's thousands of dollars by the time you buy the plants, hire people to put them in," he said. "Then, of course, you have got to maintain them. They've got to live."

Cunningham is also worried so many trees could make it harder for passing drivers to see what his business has to offer. Another big concern for businesses with outdoor inventory, like cars, RVs or trailers, is where they are able to park.

Bourcier said parking is something the planning commission will be looking at as well, along with newer building materials. She added not all businesses will be affected, only new ones and those looking to make changes.

"You've got to start somewhere, and eventually you'll start to see over years the difference that corridor will make," Bourcier said. "You're starting to see a lot of newer businesses come into the 501 area and you are starting to see those requirements put in place. They're more welcoming, they're cleaner looking, I mean it just makes for a better presence throughout our community."

The new overlay amendments will next head to the county's infrastructure and regulation committee for review. After, they will need to pass three county council readings, which will include public input.

The last overlay to go through this review was the Restaurant Row overlay. Bourcier said the next one up for review is Socastee Boulevard.

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